City staff hopeful remaining guests will move into safe housing options by Spring 2021.
More than 100 people who sought safety from the pandemic in one of the City of Austin’s Protective Lodges (“ProLodges”) have found homes.
ProLodges provide a safe facility for individuals who are at increased risk for negative outcomes if they become COVID-19 positive and who are unable to practice social distancing in their current location.
The City has coordinated with community partners and multiple housing programs to assist guests with locating and moving into “rapid rehousing” units, which provide short-term rental assistance and services to quickly house people and to help them achieve long-term self-sufficiency.
Existing housing programs through the Downtown Austin Community Court (DACC) and through Austin Public Health’s contract with Integral Care were revised during the summer months to prioritize ProLodge guests. New housing programs have been made available through CARES Act grants from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
To date, 107 individuals have exited one of the City’s five ProLodge shelters into housing through these locally and federally funded programs – and with more rapid rehousing programs expected to begin in the next few weeks, staff are optimistic that the remaining ProLodge guests will be able to exit into safe housing options by Spring 2021.
The City’s five ProLodges are still well utilized, with 216 individuals currently staying at the shelters, but significant progress is being made towards finding them homes.
- 107 individuals have moved into housing, which includes several months of financial assistance and ongoing case management
- 136 households are enrolled in a housing program and working with a case manager
- 65 households are working on safe exit options and awaiting housing program enrollment
“If there is anything this public health crisis has shown us, it is that the risk of becoming homeless is just one job loss or major illness away, that food insecurity is real, and that we must continue working together to help our most vulnerable community members,” said City Manager Spencer Cronk. “During 2020, despite the pandemic, we made significant strides in identifying services, shelter, and long-term housing opportunities for those in need. As a result of hard work and innovation, our team and our community partners successfully moved over 1,400 people into housing and out of homelessness, with growing numbers of ProLodge guests finding homes through rapid rehousing.”
- Read the City of Austin's full update to Mayor and Council on homelessness HERE.
Funding for Rapid Rehousing Programs
The City of Austin has received two rounds of HUD funding for the Emergency Solutions Grant – Coronavirus (ESG-CV) and those funds have primarily been allocated to two rapid rehousing programs. These grants last until September 2022 and allowable expenses include housing location services, case management and up to a year of financial assistance.
- DACC has established a new ESG-CV funded rapid rehousing program for $1.9 million annually, with a goal of serving 100 individuals. Multiple staff have been hired, trained and began enrolling new residents from ProLodges the first week of December.
- Caritas is working with partner agencies to begin a new ESG-CV funded rapid rehousing program, prioritizing ProLodge guests and others at risk of or impacted by COVID-19. Council authorized this contract on December 10, 2020 for a maximum of $7.5 million and services are expected to begin in early 2021.
The Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs (TDHCA) also received two rounds of HUD ESG-CV funding and determined distribution amounts for each local community. ECHO coordinated with the City to oversee the competition process for local grant awards.
- The first allocation for Austin-Travis County was approximately $1 million, awarded to Family Eldercare for rapid rehousing. They quickly hired and trained staff and began serving ProLodge guests earlier this fall. To date, they have served close to 65 individuals.
- The second round of approximately $2.8 million was competed in November and is being awarded to multiple agencies this month for rapid rehousing programs starting in early 2021.
The City continues to align efforts with the Action Plan to End Homelessness and strives to meet the evolving needs of our neighbors experiencing homelessness and the community at large.